Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Etiquette and Franz Josef

Franz Josef was the most beloved Emperor of the Habsburg Monarchy in Austria

Mark Twain and the Emperor
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How the Humorist Met Franz Josef 


An amusing description of the introduction of the late Samuel Longhorn Clemens—“Mark Twain”—to the Emperor Franz Josef in the later ’90s is given by Dr. Charles Vincent Herdliska, who as Secretary of the United States embassy at Vienna, effected the introduction.

Mr. Clemens was a good deal worried about what he should say to the Emperor. He told Dr. Herdliska that he feared he might be so overcome as to forget his little speech. “Never mind.” replied the Secretary “the Emperor will know what you intend to say. You have to send your speech to the Palace several days before you are presented. Then if his Majesty does not like what you are going to say, he need not receive you. 

We shall find the Emperor standing in the center of the large reception hall in the Palace, and together we shall cross the floor to him, and I shall speak the words of presentation. When the Emperor has replied, you will say your say in English, addressing it to me, and I will repeat it to the Emperor in German. His Majesty will then reply to me in German and I will translate it to you.” 

"Is that all there will be to it?” asked the humorist, with visible disappointment. “That will be all. And don’t offer to shake hands. That would be an unpardonable breach of Court etiquette. As soon as we have exchanged greetings, we shall withdraw.” 

On the appointed day Mr. Clemens and Dr. Herdliska appeared at the Palace. Between double lines of guards, the two Americans were ushered through room after room until they reached the threshold of the audience chamber. The door of the reception hall swung open, and humorist and secretary advanced toward the solitary figure of the aged Monarch. 

All three bowed and Dr. Herdliska spoke the formal words of presentation. The Emperor replied. Mr. Clemens then began his speech, but had not repeated more than a sentence or two when the Emperor spoke a few words in German to Dr. Herdliska, and turning on his heel, started across the floor toward a distant door. 

The Secretary started to follow; but Mr. Clemens, who understood German imperfectly, clutched his arm, whispering, “Hold on, doctor! This isn’t according to your instructions! Shall I go on with my speech?” Dr. Herdliska explained that the Emperor had said, ‘‘Tell Mr. Clemens he need not finish his speech. I have already read it. Both of you come into my library.” Much relieved. Mr. Clemens followed Dr. Herdliska into the Emperor’s study, where his Majesty put all formality aside and entertained the two Americans for an hour. 

The humorist was by this time in quite a mellow mood; his fear of royalty was a thing of the past. The Emperor’s cigars were very much to his liking. As the interview came to an end, the Emperor did a most unusual thing; he extended his hand to Mr. Clemens, who gave it a hearty grasp. And when Dr. Herdliska and his companion reached the latter’s hotel, they found the Emperor had done another unusual thing—he had sent a servant to the author’s apartment with a dozen boxes of the cigars that had given the humorist so much satisfaction. — Los Angeles Herald, 1915

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